Producing a follow-up album to “Pure Heroine,” a masterpiece that crowned Lorde as the Hemingway of pop music, was not an easy task. After a long wait, she avoided the sophomore slump seamlessly by acting her age on “Melodrama.”
Lorde began her reign in 2013 with a fresh sound that was both hauntingly minimal and respectably arrogant. Given the success of her debut album, the days leading up to the second record’s June 16 release were equal parts exhilarating and terrifying. You know the feeling – you’re watching a horror movie on the old couch in your basement. There’s a blanket over your face and you might be holding someone’s hand, but you’re still peeking through because you want to watch, even though you’re scared.
“Melodrama” dodged the “well beyond your years” persona Lorde had built up as a wise and crafty 16-year-old. Instead, it introduced a raw and polychromatic facet to the gem that is Lorde. In 11 tracks, she crystallizes the universal yet ephemeral emotions that surround love and immortalizes her 19-year-old self forever – blackout drunk, mildly neurotic, shamelessly heartbroken and all.
The album begins on an intimate note with Lorde and a piano on “Green Light.” By the pre-chorus, the colorful single tastes like Pop Rocks and has us dancing through Times Square in a wine-stained party dress, unconcerned with who is watching.
The next tracks, “Sober” and “Homemade Dynamite,” walk us into house parties. Images of recklessness remind you of your own drunk, wild decisions and a twisted nursery rhyme elicits some goosebumps – “I know this story by heart: Jack and Jill got fucked up and possessive when it get dark.”
Listeners then swim into “The Louvre” and willingly drown with Lorde in a sea of infatuation over a peculiar recipient. Admitting that we all understand the addictive and obsessive nature of new love gives a sense of normalcy to Lorde’s self-proclamation as a “psychopathic crush.”
The traditional piano ballad, “Liability” shares the thoughts that drizzle from gray skies during the moments when we’re a little too hard on ourselves. “Hard Feelings” recaps the moment we realize we have to let go of a lover. The pity party resolves itself by segueing into “Loveless,” a playful little song about mind games. Her child-like delivery taps into the crazy bone we pretend we don’t have.
“Sober II (Melodrama)” is the firm ending to the party. Our high comes down and we are hungover, listening to the little ghosts that lead us through the song. Depression echoes, and we come to terms with our actions in the darkness. “Writer in the Dark” then delivers the following disclaimer with eerie honest falsetto – I’m a writer, so I might write about you and I can’t be sorry about it.
We start to drive and “Supercut” details an idealized relationship. The pulsations and background vocals, which are reminiscent of the sounds outside the bathroom door at a party, throw us into our own video montage with one of our past lovers. The car parks and we drift into “Liability (Reprise).” The stream of consciousness speaks to “Pure Heroine’s” aesthetic in the line “you’re not what you thought you were.”
The finale is bright and triumphant with another single, “Perfect Places.” Our fleeting feelings and immature choices feel validated, and thus, drink in hand, we are victorious. The curtains close with the same intimate moment the record started with: Lorde and a piano.
Theatrical and complete, “Melodrama” is a bridge connecting fans to Lorde’s castle; even the queen is emotional.